Any federal employee can get hurt or develop an illness while working. However, it seems postal workers are more likely to become injured or ill while working than other federal workers. This post will look at some of the most common injuries or illnesses that affect postal workers; dog bites, falls, car accidents, repetitive motion, and mailing hazardous material.
Letter or Postal Carrier
These carriers deliver the mail in any weather; rain, snow, sleet, wind, heat, and extreme cold. Also, their route may require them to walk 10-15 miles per day. Both city and rural letter carriers carry mailbags weighing up to 35 pounds; however, rural carriers drive much more than city carriers. They both must load and unload trays and containers that may weigh up to 70 pounds.
This is a no brainer. A car accident can happen at any moment on any given day. Postal workers can sustain mild or life-threatening injuries due to one. Of course, this can lead to being out of work for long periods of time and being unable to perform essential job duties. Slick road conditions from rain and ice can play a part as well.
Slips and Falls
Because letter carriers deliver mail in any type of weather, a slip or fall is extremely common. Walking on sidewalks and up and down stairs that haven’t been cleared of snow makes for very slippery and unsafe conditions. Also, poor maintenance on sidewalks and stairs alike can cause falls and trips, especially if covered up by snow.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
Doing the same movement repeatedly, in any job, can cause injuries to that part of the body. This is especially true with mail carriers who “case their route” before heading out and delivering mail. Carrying a heavy mail bag on the same shoulder and walking the same mail route day after day are examples of repetitive motions that can be harmful.
The USPS says that dog attacks rose 14 percent in 2015 (the most recent data available) up to 6,549. One reason for this increase may be that there was an increase in packages delivered; 4.5 billion in 2015 up from 3.3 billion in 2011. In an effort to keep up with UPS and FedEx, the USPS shifted their service to weekends and evenings when more people are home and able to sign for their orders. This increased the odds of dog attacks.
Most carriers carry “Back Off”—a dog repellant made especially for postal workers, with cayenne pepper extract.
Here is a list of the top cities with the most dog attacks in 2015.
While less common, handling packages containing hazardous material can be very dangerous for postal workers. Illness, or even death, can occur. We saw that during the Anthrax attacks in 2001.
Just recently, the USPS was fined over $342 thousand for exposing MD postal workers to bloodborne pathogens. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) responded to employee complaints that they were exposed to blood and other potentially infectious bodily fluids while handling packages. These packages were labeled as containing biological infectious materials.
Repetitive stress from sorting mail is a common injury for these workers. They spend most of their day doing that. Lifting heavy boxes and pushing heavy containers around causes injuries to them as well.
Postal workers have one of the highest probabilities of becoming injured or ill because of their job. They are also the largest agency that we work with. We have helped countless postal workers with their federal disability retirement cases. If you are a postal worker who can no longer perform your job duties, please don’t hesitate to call us at 877-226-2723, or fill out this inquiry form, and find out how we can help you!
To read more about these injuries, click on the link below.